Fork in the road

A few months after taking a years interruption to my studies at University things took a turn for the worse again.

Early in the year I was dropping my then girlfriend (now wife) back at her home after spending some time with her and the clutch of my Fiat Cinquecento gave way. I just about managed to get the car to her door but her dad had to given me a lift back home and I left the car on their road.

The very next day, Mandy (my wife) rang me to say that a note had gone through their door to say that the road was about to be resurfaced and asked that all vehicles ready for the work to be carried out the following day. There was no choice so my mum drove me back to my car and I attempted to push it onto Mandy’s drive. Her drive was on an incline and as I pushed the weight of the car (with my mum in it) up the drive, my knee gave way and I twisted and fell awkwardly in the middle of the road. Luckily no lasting damage was done to my knee but from that point on I started getting pain in my lower back that was getting progressively worse.

Like a typical bloke I just ignored it and told myself it would sort itself out but it didn’t. It got to the point where the pain was so intense that I couldn’t stand up in the morning to go to work. I was off sick from work and being waited on hand and foot by my the disabled mother whom I was supposed to be looking after. I went to the doctors and they ignored what I was telling them about the accident I had previously and they just assumed it was because of my weight. I was a big lad and yes, the extra weight wasn’t helping but it wasn’t the cause.

One of the more sympathetic doctors put me on a combination of strong pain killers, Tramadol and co-dydramol and it did help, if nothing else, it put me to sleep at first and being asleep was a better option than being in agonising pain. When I went back for a repeat prescription, I was met by a far less sympathetic locum doctor who just told me I should walk for an hour a day. I could barely stand. It took me ten minutes to get into his room, and even that was after getting them to move him to a downstairs room as I couldn’t make it up the stairs. He did, however give me a prescription and sick note for another week.

The last time I went back to the doctors, it was an even worse doctor. She refused point blank to give me the painkillers. She said they were addictive and expensive and I should just take paracetamol and ibuprofen. I left in agony and in tears. A couple of days later, I tried to stand up and my back went into complete spasm. The pain was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I was screaming in agony. An ambulance came and they gave me gas and air, which was quite powerful stuff. As long as I was were breathing it in it made me feel as if I was out of my own body. As soon as you stopped breathing it, the effect wore off.

That night I found myself in a hospital bed on morphine in a bed next to the mother of murdered moors victim Keith Bennett, Winnie Johnson and I remember my mum being there spending her time talking to Winnie instead of talking to me. It was a very surreal experience. After two nights I was diagnosed with a ruptured disk and prescribed morphine and went home with the help of a zimmer frame.

I was off sick from work just short of six months and my back still gave me trouble from time to time for quite a while after that. Even now I have to be careful what I do with my back but although it twinges from time to time, I’ve never had a day off sick because of it since.

At this point I knew I wasn’t going to be ready to return to Uni after just a single year away so I extended my absence for a further twelve months, the maximum length allowed. I’d reached a fork in the road. I considered quitting Uni and instead doing one of these intensive IT training courses where they promise to find you a job at the end of it and I even attended an opening day and passed an assessment but at the end of the day, I’d already worked so hard to earn my place at Uni in the first place, I wasn’t prepared to give it all up then so I plodded on.